do you have Extremely Tired Parent Syndrome (ETPS)?

tired parents

Do you have children? Are you extremely tired, in fact, so tired that your pillow and your lack of energy are all you can think about? If so, you might have a serious condition called Extremely Tired Parent Syndrome (ETPS). The bad news is that there is no cure. The good news is that you are not alone; parents across the nation (well, really around the world) are afflicted with the same thing.

ETPS symptoms can develop after repeated exposure to…your own kids. Experts who have studied the phenomenon say that it can last for several decades. Though it is widely assumed that it can be cured by simply getting a good night’s sleep, this does not alleviate the severe drowsiness and fatigue associated with raising children.

How do you know if you have ETPS? Here are the telltale signs:

  1. Dozing off at unlikely times, for example, while your toddler is banging a toy drum right next to your head. (Note, for your own safety, never lie down while in the play area.)
  2. Yawning more than 44 times in a row with a facial violence liable to result in jaw strain or even sprain.
  3. When your child is in that parroting stage of learning how to speak, his or her first full sentence is, “I’m really tired.”
  4. At night, you have to turn the baby monitor up to maximum volume in order to make sure that your child’s cries will pierce through the thick sludge that is your slumber.
  5. Every barista in a 20-mile radius knows your caffeinated drink of choice, your first name, and your child’s first name.
  6. You hire a babysitter for a long overdue date night then cancel your dinner reservation at the last minute in order to hide in your bedroom to take naps.
  7. Your eyes are frightening. The bags under them have become so large they no longer qualify as carry-on luggage and some people have asked if you’ve started wearing red eyeliner. In other words, Halloween is really the only time you should take off your sunglasses.

If you suffer from ETPS (self-diagnosed, of course) it is important to connect with others who share this affliction, if for no other reason, so that they can nudge you when you nod off. In fact, impromptu support groups can be found all day, every day at any coffee shop in the country.

If caffeine no longer seems to help and you are still yawning with abandon, your only option is to take heart in that horrible adage that “you can sleep when you’re dead.”


A version of this piece appeared on The Chronicles of Parenting at Nyack News and Views.

For more home tome with just as much fatigue and even more coffee, follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

4 replies

  1. “Sleep when we’re dead”. Maybe, but our kids will no doubt bury us with cell phones so they can keep texting us…

  2. Hahahaha great piece! #6 is my whole life right now 😉 The mast few times I’ve called my MIL to babysit, she’s said “oooo hot date?” and I reply “Need. Sleep.”

    • Ha! Yes, we always set up babysitting with the best of intentions, then after she gets here, we look at each other like…do we have enough energy for this? Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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